Teas come in all sorts of flavors and benefits that make the beverage palatable for almost everyone. From the gentler notes of Jasmine to the stronger black teas, there are many reasons why people still gravitate towards this ancient drink to this day. Oolong tea is possibly the most well known out of all black teas and has had such a high demand that beverage companies are selling Oolong teas to satisfy customers everywhere. Why is this particular tea so popular? What are the advantages and disadvantages of Oolong tea? Read this article to get those answers.

What is Oolong Tea?

Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea that comes from Camellia Sinensis leaves. These leaves are used for green tea and black tea, but the way the ingredient is processed is widely different. The leaves go through a chemical reaction called oxidation which is responsible for the tea's change of color. While oolong tea is labeled as a black tea, it is only partially oxidized, meaning that it is a milder version that seems to be a favored middle ground among consumers.

Nutrition of Oolong Tea

Fluoride, Niacin, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Caffeine and Manganese are the common nutrients found in a cup of oolong tea. Because this tea has been partially oxidized, antioxidants such as catechins aren't as abundant which reduces this tea's eligibility as a detox beverage. If unsweetened, the tea contains no fat, carbohydrates or protein - which may be ideal for those going on grueling diets.

Aiding Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, oolong tea has a surprisingly healthy track record. Surveys have indicated that overweight patients had seen an improved rate of weight loss when consuming the tea. It has been accredited to caffeine and the compound's ability to boost metabolism. Although this isn't a primary staple for many weight loss diets, its inclusion can certainly make a difference.

Lowers Blood Sugar

With a boosted metabolic rate comes the need to lower blood sugar which oolong can do. Although this is not exclusive to oolong or black teas, the beverage has antibodies that can assist with moderating blood sugar. While green tea is primarily known for this feat, oolong can step up in this too. This is correlated with weight loss and the body's ability to metabolize sugar more efficiently.

Lowers Risk of Diseases

With the ability to reduce blood sugar, potential risks like heart diseases and type-2 diabetes are by default also minimized. Studies showed that diabetics who consumed one and a half liters of oolong tea found that their blood sugar was reduced by 30%. Additional research has also been done to prove that Oolong tea can reduce strokes as well.

Good for the Skin

Oolong tea also packs anti-allergic properties which can do wonders for skin problems like acne and eczema. Since tea has been reputed as a hydrating beverage, it tends to leave the skin moisturized for far longer than non tea drinkers. It will never substitute the power of cosmetics, but it is good to know that this mainstay beverage has a place in the beauty scene too.

Increased Alertness

It's no secret that black tea contains the most amount of caffeine and oolong tea is part of that category. Caffeine when taken appropriately can stimulate cognitive functions and gives consumers focus while reducing stress. Note that an excess of caffeine can lead to jitters, stomach aches, dizziness and cold sweats. While oolong tea doesn't even contend with the stronger coffees out there, caution is still advised.

Improved Bone Health

It is true that milk is the most renowned for bone health due to its richness in calcium, but oolong can also help protect bones against osteoporosis - a skeletal condition that makes the bones more susceptible to fractures. Oolong tea plays its part in contributing to bone density, but by no means serves as a long term preventative.

Caffeine Overload

When drinking too much caffeine, the heightened amount of brain activity can trigger negative side effects such as insomnia, anxiety and nervousness. Your body will also experience headaches and rapid heartbeats if the chemical is consumed beyond your threshold. While this applies to any caffeinated beverages, black tea can still pose such a risk.

As caffeine has been loosely defined as a drug, a dependence of it can rival that of coffee and energy drinks too. Side effects of going beyond four cups can also result in nausea, vomiting and digestive problems. Other than it's caffeine properties, there is little to worry about oolong and is safe to consume in moderation.

Dental Risks

While oolong's containment of fluoride can technically help prevent cavities, a surplus of the chemical will cause the opposite to occur. Studies have shown that the absolute limit would be to consume less than one litre of this type of tea to be on the safer side.

When is the Best Time to Drink Oolong Tea?

Interestingly, drinking oolong tea right after eating meal is not advised by the health professionals. In the process of eating, your body is at its emptiest and having a surplus of the beverage will cause stomach aches and nausea. It is, however, capable of aiding digestion if consumed appropriately half an hour after a meal and also doubles as the best time for the tea to burn the most amount of fat.

However if your last meal is relatively close to your bedtime, this rule is moot as the tea will damage your sleep cycle more than you'd think. Also due to its caffeinated properties, oolong in particular is not recommended to those who are pregnant.

Ezra Gideon, UNB and Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.

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